Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Where Things Used to Be

The SO and I spent a quality Monday at Kings Dominion recently. We both grew up in the same town. We went to this amusement park every summer through college. As adults, we went more sporadically. Maybe once every 2-3 years. I had a 10 year gap where I didn't go at all since I lived out of the area. This was the first time we went together.

Interestingly, we both had the same patterns and list of rides.

1) Check the line at the newest coaster (this year, the Dominator). It was short, so we went. If it was long, we would have gone to the next ride....

2)Go on the coolest coaster in the park. The Volcano. One of the best examples of infrastructure repurposing I've seen. If you look at the ride, you can see the remains of Smurf Mountain and the Haunted River (so THAT'S that they did with the old skeletons). The corner that used to hold the Time Machine still has some of the plaster mountain, but it is now covered with bushes.

3) Go on the first old standby. In this instance, the Rebel Yell. Traditionally, this was a reasonably smooth (for a wooden coaster), straightforward, long ride. This poor thing is showing its age. There's a lot more shake in it than before, one bump that wasn't there, and chipping paint on the tracks. We used to ride this coaster over and over and over and over as kids. The lines were short and the coaster was simple fun. This time, we only rode it once. Maybe its old age, but our equilibrium isn't letting us ride these things back to back like we used to. And we both thought that neither of us would be surprised if they closed this thing for a season for refurbishment real soon. It's due...

4) Go on another newer ride.

5) Go on another old standby.

Alternate 4 and 5 until you complete the list or until the headache refuses to subside.

This trip, we avoided the Grizzly. A shame since that is on my list of favorite coasters ever. But the advantage of having gone to a park multiple times is that if you decide to forgo a favorite, you've been on it before. So why did we avoid this coaster? Ummm....too violent. It's a teeth-rattler on the best of days. Best teeth-rattler ever, in my opinion. We couldn't do it.


So what does my trip to Kings Dominion, remembering where things used to be, have to do with education? Well, lots.

I've been working the Freshman Orientation days this summer at the university. It's interesting to listen to the parents ask questions about how their kids will be educated and reminisce about their college days.

Are they allowed to have laptops in the classroom? I'm afraid my kid won't pay attention and just play games.

How many of the professors are using this Blackboard thing? We didn't have that when we were in school.

You know, when I was in school, we didn't have Google or the internet or any of that.

I think about how different my History education would have been if I tried it now. Notes were on handwritten 3x5 cards and sorted for the thesis. Some libraries still had card catalogs. If I needed primary source material, I had to figure out a way to physically get there.

For myself and many of my colleagues, dissertation subjects were determined more by access to primary source materials than by interest.

Think about how the internet changes all of that.

Despite ourselves, we look back for familiar landmarks.

This is where the King Kobra used to be.

Hey, the Crypt is where the Safari Monorail used to be.

I wonder what they closed behind the fence?
(Turned out to be the Hypersonic XLC)

The trick is to focus on the opportunities right now and the options in front of you. I'm happy that I had a chance to ride the new, even if it meant forgoing a favorite old. And even if it's closed or dismantled next time, I still remember. There's other stuff to explore.


Unknown said...

You know, I don't really do roller-coaster rides. I'm not much of a one for horror movies either. I've never quite understood the motivation to shell out one's hard-earned dosh to be scared spitless.

But I get the analogy. The thing we have to remember, too, is that all those rides - the old and the new (but especially the old) are constantly being serviced so that they will continue to do the job. Also, there is some bloke with a voice like a foghorn calling you to come and climb aboard. No-one just builds them and then dumps them somewhere. They get maintained and marketed.

Hmm. Interesting thought process developing!

Wendy said...

Interestingly, the Hypersonic was built, used briefly (2001 - 2007), then dumped. Right now, the coaster is hanging out in pieces behind a fence. At least until they find a buyer. And maintaining the old vs. marketing the new and prioritizing between the two is always an issue.

You are right....interesting thought process developing.

PS - I don't like horror movies either. Reality is scary enough....